Overcoming Obligation Overwhelm

obligation overwhelm

As a creative entrepreneur, you pulse between being obliged by outside forces and being obliged by what you set yourself up to do.

For instance, in running my own business sometimes I get cold requests from this site for either being a mentor or doing a custom piece of art. This is an example of me being obliged by outside forces.

On the other side, when I plan a show or a workshop, I’m obliging myself. When I plan to post to my social media page a series of marketing strategies, I’m obliging myself.

What it takes to run a successful creative business is a balance of the two sides of obligation. Doing work that others request of you, and doing work that you hope will be fruitful but the outcome is uncertain: this is the honey jar of being a creative entrepreneur.

I am writing this today because I think we all get caught on one side of the obligation scale more than in the middle. And the result is obligation overwhelm.

I see this state of mind in those I mentor, and also I see it myself. Sometimes we are waiting to be obliged by outside forces too much, and lose hope during the waiting. Other times we fill our schedules with launches, plans, craft fairs, and shows, and also can lose hope here, too, with the uncertain nature this type of obligation.

Today: what do you truly want to oblige yourself towards?

All of creative entrepreneurship is a balancing act. We are the middle line of our business, not our boss or superior. So how in the world do we create a flow of balance of doing what we truly want while still obliging ourselves and being obliged? 

Here are some tips to keep you in your creative business flow:

Make a freaking plan.

I like to re-evaluate my business plan pretty regularly. Especially if I am in a place like I am today where I have done 3 series of in person workshops/events and sessions in 6 months, a sleuth of new paintings and coloring templates, a handful of commissions, held a regular roster of mentoring clients, and now my plate is totally empty. My business plan comes in handy at this time. I start to oblige myself by making a plan. It also is a very hopeful thing to plan for what I want in my business. A business plan can be a formal document that you may want to present to a bank, or it can be a few pages in your journal. Whatever it is, plan it so you can live it.

You can’t have it if you don’t know what IT is, so what do you want from your business? Shameless plug: I can help you plan your next business steps in this program right here!

Don’t judge or compare yourself.

One of the greatest things about living in the modern connected world can also be seen as a curse: the internet. In particular, social media makes our life fun yet riddled with comparison. I have written a bit about my relationship with social media here , but my take is this today: whenever you feel comparative to that person or business you admire, keep asking yourself: what is it that they have that I want? How can I see that quality/aspect/thing in my life, right now?

And then, remind yourself that everyone has had or currently experiences: boogers and snot, insomnia, a crying baby or spouse or friend, challenging moments, unwanted weight gain, break-ups, loss and sadness, days where all they eat is cheese and bread and potato chips, and the trials and tribulations of working either for herself or for someone else. Everyone.

Find your rhythm.

Your creative business is much like anything in life, it has seasons of flush and hibernation. Maybe you are busier during the Holidays with gift orders, and you can plan your work load and earnings around that time. Maybe you launch an e-course once a year that brings in the bulk of your income. Maybe you have clients that reign in after the new calendar year. Whatever it is, honor the ins and outs of your business’s life. When you don’t have new clients calling you, focus on your marketing plans. When you have too many requests from others, sift through and learn to say no to projects you don’t want to do.

Don’t give up hope in the time of experiencing a break, instead re-fuel yourself and trust the formula of running a business (see above with making a plan!)

Embrace the breaks.

Right now, I am in a lull in my business. There is nothing on the books today. If I look back to about a year ago, the same lull happened to me then. I now know it’s part of my business’s rhythm to go hush in the Fall.

This is my second full year running my business, and I can see the break very differently than I did last year. Last year I thought it was the end of me and my identity. Now, I am embracing what is before me. I am gut checking and fact checking and then tossing all of that into the air. This is the rhythm of my business and I am not fighting it from a place of fear. I look at this break as a gift, and also a great time to check in with myself with what I honestly want to do with my time.

My advice is this, don’t over oblige yourself, but if you must…do it with grace. And do it from a place of trust, surrender, and total love for the project that is consuming you.

If you don’t like how your business is going, change it. You have the power to keep creating what you want to see or do in your business (and in your life!) If you feel scared that you may be stuck, get a new business plan. Simple!

If you are thinking, that is great…but my business is cursed because I am cursed, let’s get you into a creativity session or two.

Because like all things, yes there is magic that comes to play, but the magic begins with you. It’s time to do, create, and oblige yourself with what your truly want to go towards in your life.

Embrace,

R o s e

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